Converting a garage is an excellent and affordable way to add extra living space to your home. If you want to do it yourself, or hire a specialist garage conversion company, whether you want to convert your garage into an extra guest-bedroom, home-office or luxury home-cinema - this guide is what you need. Converting your garage can be a tricky business so, to make things easy for you, we have divided this guide into easy to understand sections:
- Reasons to convert your garage
- How to convert your garage
Reasons to convert your garage
What do you use your garage for these days? With cars getting bigger and houses getting smaller, more and more garages are turning into wasted space. These days, garages tend to get filled up with forgotten fitness equipment, old toys and useless memorabilia that would take more time to throw out than it is actually worth. In days gone by the family car had to be protected from the elements - but that was before they were routinely galvanised. So, if you can park in the street, don’t let this valuable asset go to waste! Converting a garage can be one of the most cost effective ways to add space to your home and it can even add extra value too - a garage conversion's value will rise in tandem with the house price.
Moreover, a well-made garage conversion can bring extra daylight into your house. If your garage is attached to the side of your house, installing glazed doors for access will make that adjoining room lighter and more airy! Let’s take a look at some of the most popular uses for that defunct old garage:
- Another lounge
- An extra bedroom
- An extra bathroom
- A childrens’ play-room
- A larger kitchen
- A home cinema
- A home-gym
- A home-office
Another lounge is actually the most popular garage conversion. Think that having two lounges is excessive? Just wait till those cute kids turn into teenagers - you may not want to snuggle up on the sofa with your son and his spotty mates every night of the weekend. On the other hand, if you work for yourself and pay for office space elsewhere, perhaps you should size up the cost of having your own home-office, factoring in the added value to your house when you come to sell it. In comparison to building an extension or a loft conversion, converting your garage will most likely add the most extra floor space for the least extra expense. Read on for more about the conversion process!
Can I convert my garage?
Before you go ahead with your garage conversion, you need to know all the legal issues involved. There are three main things that you need to check first - if you go ahead without permission you could be forced to return everything to its original condition, at your own cost.
- Restrictive clauses in your lease - You need to check your property deeds for any restrictive covenants. Some developers place a restriction on any building work that will affect the external appearance of the house. If there is such a clause, contact them, as it can often be circumvented for a fee. Your other option is to convert the inside of the garage without changing its external appearance. This is often achieved by keeping a front portion of the garage for storage space and converting the rest. Of course, the suitability of this option depends on your intentions for the garage.
- Planning permission - You usually only need to apply for planning permission to convert a garage when you intend to extend the actual size of the garage. However, check with your local authority as the precise rules do differ.
- Building Regulations - If you plan to convert any part of your house into a room to be used as habitable space, you will need to comply with government building regulations. A building control officer will probably need to check your conversion a number of times during construction. More information can be found on the relevant section of the government's website. Again, rules differ so you need to check with your local council. There are some instances where permission to convert your garage may be denied such as:
- You live in a listed building or neighbourhood - It is very likely in this case that the external appearance of the house must be maintained as it is.
- Your garage conversion would affect drainage - If you plan on concreting over your garden or anything similar, thus putting extra pressure on the existing drainage in place, you may need to invest in a solution to allay the potential for flooding or blocked drains.
- Additional insulation is needed - Some councils will allow you to simply add the extra fill to the existing construction, others demand that you dig up the floor and insulate it as if building from scratch. This will affect your budget, so always check first.
- Parking restrictions - In some cities where there is a particular shortage of parking spaces such as London, councils can refuse permission to convert your garage from a place where a car is kept.
What kind of garage do you own and is it suitable for conversion?
- Single garage - A single garage will add around 150 square feet of floor space to your home.
- Double garage - You may either convert the whole area, or just the nearest side to your house. If you convert it all, you can expect to add around 300 square feet of floor space to your home.
- Tandem garage - As before, converting only the back will leave you with the best of both worlds.
- Standalone garage - Careful, as you may need to make an application for permission to change its use.